Accused killer of Wynter Cole-Smith pleads not guilty to federal charges

Wynter Smith
Posted at 4:11 PM, Aug 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-07 16:11:47-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The man accused of kidnapping and killing a Michigan 2-year-old pleaded not guilty Monday in Grand Rapids.

Rashad Trice was arraigned on federal charges in connection to the kidnapping and death of 2-year-old Wynter Cole-Smith.

The Amber Alert issued during the search for Trice and Wynter is what pushed this case to the federal level.

Trice was previously in Grand Rapids her a preliminary hearing on July 11. While no cameras were allowed in the courtroom, FOX 17 has sketches of the proceedings.

Rashad Trice prelim - sketch 2.jpg
Sketch of Rashad Trice's preliminary hearing in federal court in Grand Rapids.

The 26-year-old sat with his attorneys as the prosecution called their only witness to testify: FBI Special Agent Christopher Rodolico.

His testimony illuminated the timeline of the case.

It started on July 2 when the victim’s mom called 911 just before midnight about a “stabbing, beating,” and a sexual assault in her Lansing apartment.

Rodolico says the mom was able to escape from the apartment — and ran into a bystander in the parking lot.

When she returned, Trice was gone, along with her Chevy Impala and 2-year-old Wynter.

Wynter Smith
Amber Alert Issued for 2-year-old Wynter Smith

Within hours, an Amber Alert went out and Trice’s cell phone was being used to track his movements.

On July 3, Trice was seen driving in the St. Claire Shores area.

Police pursued him, telling the press Trice was bleeding when they found him, he resisted arrest and tried to take an officer’s gun.

On July 5, investigators found Wynter’s body in a grassy area near an alley with a cord wrapped around her neck.

Rodolico testified the FBI believes strangulation was the cause of death.

Rashad Trice prelim - sketch 1.jpg
A sketch of Magistrate Judge Ray Kent and U.S. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jonathan Roth during Trice's preliminary hearing.

Magistrate Judge Ray Kent then stated in court Trice told law enforcement, “I am already a monster” and that he wanted to kill himself.

Judge Kent then bound him over on the charges of kidnapping a minor and kidnapping resulting in death. He pleaded not guilty Monday to both charges.

A grand jury also reviewed the case and indicted him on July 26. These are charges on top of those he’s facing on the state level in Ingham County.

Trice faces a minimum sentence of life behind bars if convicted of kidnapping resulting in death. The death penalty is also a possibility.

"Today’s hearing marks yet another step ahead in the judicial process, and my office is fully prepared to make our case against Mr. Trice at a fair trial,” says U.S. Attorney Mark Totten. “My thoughts continue to be with the family as we seek a measure of justice following the heartbreaking loss of Wynter Cole-Smith.”

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